It’s a Milwaukee institution, and it’s famous across the country. The 5 O’Clock Steakhouse has been around since 1946. This year it will celebrate its 70th anniversary.
Stelio Kalkounos is a managing partner at the 5 o’Clock. His family took over the business 12 years ago.
“The front section of the restaurant here has been a bar before and after prohibition, so it’s got a long history, over 100-year-old building,” said Kalkounos.
“Even during prohibtion, they were mixing beverages in with the medicine they were prescribing. It was a legal pharmacy here on the West Side of Milwaukee, it was Schneider’s Pharmacy. Under the table they mixed a few beverages. The local crowd needed to be taken care of during prohibition.”
That was then, this is now.
“The corporate family wanted to sell to a another family that was in the business, so my family took it over and we just maintain the tradition and legacy of the supper club-style of service, which is very popular and famous right now throughout the country,” he adds.
Kalkounos says the trend of supper clubs is rising across America.
“It’s going back to the original style of dining that happened during the 50’s and 60’s that was really made popular in the Midwest. Really, Wisconsin is sort of the birth state of that movement. Other states picked it up, but really Wisconsin has probably the most supper clubs per capita,” Kalkounos explains.
A supper club also has particular elemnets of the dining experience, though Kalkounos admits some of the pieces to the supper club puzzle are hard to define.
What makes something a supper club?
“Usually you’ll walk into a place and you’ll find wood paneling. You’ll feel like you’re going into someone’s home as opposed to a restaurant,” Kalkounos says.
“There are elements that are very welcoming and family oriented, but also a little bit gangster, if I can say. Kind of like underground clubs that people would go on the far off roads on the west side of town or far north neck of the woods near the lakes. They would stop and have a great dinner. Usually there would be steak and seafood options. Here in the state of Wisconsin you’d be having the brandy old fashioned, the relish trays. The relish trays are a big part of the deal here in Wisconsin. You’d probably go to other parts of the country and ask for a relish tray and they’d be like, ‘What do you mean, like relish for a hot dog?’ When people come here they ask what is a relish tray?”
Why an Old Fashioned?
“The beverage, I would say, is really the signature drink of Wisconsin,” he answers.
“The state of Wisconsin consumes more brandy than any other state in the country. Brandy old fashioned, usually sweet, is something a proper bartender will make properly. They’ll know to muttle the fruits. They’ll know to add the right amount of bitters, just the right amount of sugar, they’ll muttle that together and get the essences of the orange, the cherry and the bitters together.”
Watch Belinda do the job of a bartender and waitress at the landmark Milwaukee restaurant in your video player above.